SGCS set for reconfiguration next school year

A major change in the reconfiguration plan is keeping the sixth grade in the secondary setting. Instead of an elementary, middle and high school, the district will have two buildings: an elementary school composed of kindergarten through fifth grades and a Junior-Senior High School composed of sixth through twelfth grades. 

The reconfiguration will include the following important components, as released by the Board:

The high school will be known as a Churubusco Junior-Senior High School.

The high school principal will be reassigned as “educational leader” for grades 6-12, with grade six classrooms remaining physically in the junior-senior high school building.

The current middle school principal will be reassigned to a junior-senior high assistant principal position with responsibilities over student services. 

An elementary assistant principal position will be created to assist with elementary leadership and to assist with the transition of students in grade six, using funds saved through restructuring of selected positions by the administration.

Facility and space consideration of the district through 2015 will be directed to the strategic planning committee for determination, with recommendations sent back to the Board in the draft strategic plan, which will be submitted to the Board in May. 

“We tried to come to a consensus on what the community felt was important, what administration felt was important and consideration of Board comments as well,” Darnell said.  “It’s been a process to get to this point. Speaking on behalf of the administration, we certainly appreciate all the input the teachers have given, support staff have given, parents, community. We want this to work for everyone. We’re pleased with this recommendation. We think this is something that will work.”

School Board Vice President Cathy Petrie expressed qualms regarding the reconfiguration, and therefore voted against the reconfiguration. She said she has concerns about creating an administrative position in the elementary, coming from a financial standpoint, since Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels just announced proposed cuts to K-12 budgets statewide. 

Superintendent Steve Darnell explained that Daniels was proposing a $300 million cut to K-12 education funding, which could mean a reduction in the general fund for the 2010-2011 school year. However, Darnell said SGCS has worked to build up a cash reserve over the years, so he feels good about the reconfiguration. 

School Board President Tanya Young talked about the process leading up to the reconfiguration decision, noting that she appreciated input from the community and staff. 

Young said the process of collaborating on the reconfiguration plan—between the Board and Administrators, between staff, parents, students and community members—was a learning process. 

“I think we’re doing things different here, and I’m proud of that,” she said.  “I’m proud of the fact that we are trying to establish a climate where we’re working together, we’re trusting each other and we’re doing what’s best for kids.”

She noted that the Board was not all in agreement, which showed they all wanted what was best for students. 

Young added that the logistics of the sixth grade move is still a concern for the Board, and for that reason, the sixth grade will remain in the secondary setting until the strategic planning committee can address the issue and the Board and Administrators can discuss it further. 

In an email interview, Superintendent Darnell said the current reconfiguration may just be the first phase. 

“I think the Board felt the proposal could be done in phases,” he said. “We will move classroom space around in the Jr-Sr High School to isolate sixth grade rooms, provide the support services for those at-risk students, and then look at physically moving rooms in the coming year.”  The Board wants this type of facility change to come through the strategic planning committee should that group feel it is necessary, Darnell added.

“The administration feels moving sixth graders to the elementary setting will be the best move for them eventually,” he said. “We will continue to look at programming to see if their needs can be met in the junior-senior high setting first.”

In other Board news:

The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Alumnus Amy Jagger as the Spring High School Musical director. Jagger will direct “Guys and Dolls,” a musical in which she starred as “Adelaide” during her musical career at CHS.

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